Friday, February 20, 2015

working again

A year ago I was house bound with little to do except for the daily routine that I had established for myself.  The unemployment checks had run the course, and my internet job searches had gone idle. I had put some weight, and my knee joints  were now showing more and more aches and pains.

I have been traveling with the spousal unit on her work travels.  As you know, the bus driver eats free.  I began a search for contract employment that would allow me the freedom to accompany the spousal unit on her travels.

My search led me to a position that was posted on Craig's List.  There was a job posted for an assembly technician.  Being one that doesn't like reading instructions, this might be a challenge.  I applied for the job, got a call, and the next thing I knew, my mouth was being swabbed for a drug test.  I was now an official assembly technician!

My first day I was to meet my trainer at one of the local Home Depots.  We started with the grills.  I removed the contents of the box and grabbed the instruction book.  My trainer said "we ain't got time for that.  Watch me!". A year later, I very rarely open the instruction guide :-).

Now, a year later, I'm a few pounds lighter, and inch or two thinner, and the pains in my knee joints has moved yo all of my muscle groups!  I gave up the tub years ago, but now the soaker tub is my sanctuary, with bubbles, of course!

I have not used an alarm since my separation from my old desk job.  Except for the muscle pains, I wake up ready to attack the day. There is no supervision, and occasionally I have been assigned the task of training the " new guy". The pay is piece work, the more you work, the more you get paid.

I recently received my 1099 from the Company.  The amount was around 10% of what I was making at the old desk job.  At this stage of my life its not about the money.  I'm keeping myself busy, working my muscle groups, and was never this happy in my previous life as a bean counter.

Funny thing, my employer required me to sign a nondisclosure agreement, buying my silence.  All I had to say back then was a silent"thank you" for the freedom it gave me.   Three years later, the terms of the agreement have been fulfilled.  Now, the only thing I have to say is "don't worry, I'm happy.  Have a margarita and I'll be at the beach!"

The biggest regret, was the loss of the relationships with my fellow coworkers and the friendships that were developed over 30 years.  But hey, I now have a whole new set of folks to get to know, and these customers are continually cracking me up with their questions and requests!

Any advise I can offer is to love what you do.  Life is literally far too short to spent it doing something you hate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Its weird how some things happen, some for a reason, others that make you go hum?

Yesterday, I starting getting the itch to build another ice chest cooler box.  No particular reason, the process is good therapy for me when my mind gets cluttered.  Then, last night a buddy sends me a FB message.  He needs one of my coolers.  Love how that happens!

Been living life for the last three years as a guy that got put to pasture at the age of 55.  Not my choice.  Had reached the point where, I needed a change.  I was not happy,  taking way too many pills, and hated going to work every day.  Spent two of the past three years looking for employment, with no luck.  Then I find an ad on Craigslist for an assembly technician.  Been doing it for a year now, love it!  Made 10% of what I used to make, but hey, its not about the money, its about doing something you enjoy!  I have become the "preferred technician" at several of the stores I service.  (Helps to have a supportive soulmate.)

I've had to tweak my spending habits a bit.  Trying to stretch my dollars until I reach the ripe old age on 59 and a half.  Lots of less:  less shopping, less eating out, less entertainment.  Monday, I open an envelope, and find a check made out to me, one that would be coming in a few years.  Turns out, a guideline was amended for an early disbursement.  My lucky day!  Still gonna be tweaking that lifestyle til it becomes routine.

I was in Madison last week, doing my contract work at the movie theater.  Decided to get a BBQ sammich.  Ran into my old banker from my working days.  Been work friends for 30 years.  Have not seen him in over three years.  He is not a facebooker, so we had some catching up to do.  His face lit up when he saw me. I think mine was brighter than his!  Lots of small talk, got a reminder of what I used to like about my old job.  He was glad to see that I was the "same old Bill"!

I haven't used an alarm clock since my career change.  I wake up when my body says to, usually around this time of the morning (6 am).  Always early.  Hard to be late when you enjoy what you do!

Hoping to experience a few more " weirds" along this path I'm taking.  Liking them so far.......

Growd Up

Its weird.  How does it happen?  You wake up one morning and discover that all of a sudden your children are all grown up!

The oldest will be 28 next month and yet he is still standing at that fork in the road of life, not knowing which path to take.  Dude, sometimes its one step forward and two steps back, but don't just stand there!  He's been asking for a nudge, one way, or the other.  I learned early with this one, to point him to the mirror.  His decisions will be his own, not gonna blame me for those hickups that come along the way.

The youngest, now 22, snuck up on me.  I thought that we had a good communication pathway.  Turns out I was just hearing myself talk.  He's making adult decisions on his own now.  Some, not so smart, but he gets back up, and moves on.  Last three semesters of college will not phase him.  He will succeed.

Both have girl friends.  Both are very different.  One, I think, has figured out that my bark is way worse than my bite.  The other, no where close.  I have to remind myself that the boys get to pick the girls.  Mom and Dad, here she is, deal with it. God knew what he was doing when he gave me boys.  He forgot to remind me about girl friends and potential daughter in laws.  Yep, I've definitely got work to do on this one.

Funny that there is no user manual for being a human being.  You start off as a son or daughter.  You mature and possibly become a husband or wife.  Then, if you are real lucky, you get an opportunity to be called Momma or Daddy.  So far, I've bent a lot of nails and stripped quite a few screws along this path called life.  Got two more chances, "in-law" and "grandpop".  Hoping the game of life gives me a new set of strikes and outs and maybe some extra innings for these next adventures, assuming those days come my way!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Thief in the Night

I grew up in the Mississippi Delta, a place where your personal safety and the security of your possessions were second thought.  The door to the house was never locked, and car doors were locked, only if you ventured to the "big city".

To this day, I've never been one for locks, especially in my own driveway, thinking why lock the door, when a thief is just gonna knock out your window to get what he's after.  I do lock up when parked away from the house, just as a small deterant to " walk by " thievery.

Yesterday I was headed to Clinton to do some assembly work at Home Depot.  Backing up, I noticed that the hatchback light came on.  Sometimes the door doesn't get shut all the way.  No biggie, I just hopped out and re-shut it.  I also stopped at the local Kroger to fill up my tank.  It wasn't til I reached my final destination, to find I had been violated during the night.  I parked my car, got a shopping cart to my tools, and then opened the hatch.  My first look, something looks strange.....

My rolling tool bag was gone.  Work table, and everything else was there.  Son of a bitch!  Got assembly work to do, a big day, and no tools!

Apparently, during the night, some lowlife cruised several neighborhoods looking for treasures.  My car has tinted windows, so nothing is exposed to the onlooker, especially at night.  They came looking for cars that are unlocked.  Bingo!  Tool bag!  Awesome find!  My unlucky day.

I called the spousal unit and told her my misfortune.  She placed a call to the Rankin County Sheriff's office for me, since I was in Clinton.

The Deputy took down all the vital info he needed,  since I had already made my initial repurchase of tools I needed for the day, I had a very good idea of the cost of the items stolen.  I've already exceeded $400 to replace tools, just to do my work for the day.

It appears that the tools are gone forever.  According to the Deputy, these crackheads don't bother going to pawn shops anymore.  They are easily profiled, so to avoid detection, they just sell the stuff on the street for their quick fix for the day.  If somehow they are caught before they dispose of the bounty, this would be the only chance for recovery.

Before the Deputy left, he mentioned that there was another theft in my neighborhood, so far.  The case file would remain open for a while, because it is a certainty, there will be more.

I was a bit disappointed that the thief didn't come back for more tools.  I've got a nail gun that I wanted to introduce him to.  The only comfort that I can find in this, is the Sheriff Department is out there, trying to keep me and the other residents of Rankin County safe.

I hope that the thief got a good price for my stuff so that he could have enough money for a really good fix.  I take pleasure in the thought that the theft of my tools have in some way contributed to the distruction of this guy's internal organs and most likely, an early grave.

It is now official, my doors will always be locked, and my garage door will be down. (Son's expensive road bike disappeared a year ago, off the wall, in the corner, out of sight, from passerby's.). I have been violated, and things will never be the same, what a shame.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fall Ball 2014, That's a Wrap!

Well, except for conference champions and bowl games, the 2014 season has come to an end. Its been quite a year, with both teams exceeding initial expectations.  Both will be receiving their rewards for a job well done with a New Years holiday trip to some place warm, whether its outside or in a cozy dome.  For that, all fans should be excited and grateful.

For my household, its been a tiring but exciting journey.  Trips together to Starkville and Oxford and a couple of "divorced" weekends where we went our separate ways to support our respective teams.

The atmosphere on both campuses has been electric.  Tailgating at its best, with all the colors, smells and sounds that just pull you end.  Visits by both ESPN Game Day, and SEC Nation to both campuses just added to the excitement.

Seeing both stadiums full to capacity and the noise levels deafening just sends tingles up and down your spine.  The roars of "Hotty Toddy" and "HailState" have never been louder!  The sounds of clanging cowbells are still ringing in my ears!

The Spousal unit and I shared extended weekends on both campuses this year.  We both took in our first "Cowbell Yell” where we learned to " ring responsibly" and how to do the school cheers.  My birthday weekend was spent on the Square in Oxford on a Friday night, taking in some awesome meals and visiting with friends who spotted us from a balcony.  Old times come back like it was yesterday when you are with the right people.

Game days are like no other.  Tents are set up in school colors.  TVs are setup with satellite hookups to the latest game on the air and neighbors are openly invited to join the viewing.  Every imaginable thing to eat is there, all you need is the appetite, "come on in and have a plate"!

You meet up with friends, old and new.  You share stories of games past, brag on your kids, and say " boy, things sure have changed since I was here!". Soon, its game time, and its off to the stadium you go.

The games are now over and the clock is at zero for the last time.  Its time to put away all the tailgating gear.  Tents, tables, chairs and decor off to storage. Table linens, Chafing dishes are put away, and recipes are sorted and filed away, some are always a favorite, some never to return.

Its funny to see the evolution of tailgating.  First, it was out of the trunk of the car, with a blanket and card table or two.  Then the portable affordable tent arrived, along with the bag chair.  Suddenly ice chests had wheels.  Then, small quiet generators found their way, with satellite dishes and flat screen TVs not far behind.  With the arrival of restricted parking, now its the foldable collapsable little red and blue wagons in tow, loaded down with all the supplies and goodies for the day!  Its got me wondering, OK, what's going to be the next big thing in tailgating.

Me, I'm glad its over, time to recharge.  Now we've got eight month of planning to do it all over again.  Hotty Toddy and #hailstate!  See you next fall!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

BWW in the Smokies

Vaca in the Smokies, can't wait to get there.  First I20, then I59, with a short ride on I24, and I75 to finally I40.  I felt like I was touring the country on top of Lookout mountain on this trip.  Traveled Mississippi, then Alabama, before we hit a slice of Georgia before entering Tennessee!  Those Georgia folks must feel like they're cut off from the rest of the State sitting up in this northwest corner  all boxed in.

Once you leave the interstate, you are welcomed by the sights of the Smokies!  Saw the biggest snow flakes I'd ever seen!  Of course, they were mounted on all of the light poles.  As we made our way, the path was glowing from all the other decorative lighting that had already been put out to welcome the tourists to the winter season in the Smokies!

All checked in to our condo for the remainder of the week, it was getting late, and our dining choices were a bit limited.   All voted for a wing stop a BWW just up the road.

As we entered, we discovered that the nightly round of trivia had just concluded.  At this late hour, we had our choice of seating.  We had the waitress's full attention since there was only one other group.

She began to take our drink order, and the fun began!  Son#1 wanted a beer, but took forever to decide.  Seems the bar was loaded with craft beer on tap.  He made his selection, but was curious about some of the others. After some young people small talk about music, bands, and tattoos, The waitress suggested that he try a sample.  OK!  She brought a small tasting glass, half full of beer and half full of head.  After a sip, she asked if he wanted to sample another?  This got me to thinking...

Kiddingly, I asked if a person could have a sample of every craft beer that she had on tap. She wrinkled her forehead a bit, looked around the restaurant a bit, then said "today is your lucky day!". Let the tasting begin!  I had one, the spousal unit and girly friend took a sip or two out of several, and son#1 was in beer heaven.  Most of these craft beers are a bit too much for me so I stuck with my unsweet tea.

We got to the menu, and it was total confusion.  There were way too many sauces to choose from.  With my stomach these days, I had to stick with just medium and honey BBQ.  The confusing thing, was the units were in " snack, small, medium, and large".  We told the waitress, obviously, it had been a while since we had been in BWW.  What happened to ordering in units of twelve?  She said it is now in increments of 5.  Snack 5, small 10, medium 15, large 20.  Must be some of that new fangled common core math!

We enjoyed our meal, the beer sampling was fantastic, and the waitress was all smiles from the big tip.  As we left, she gave us a shout out "I'm here tomorrow night too!". Just might take her up on it!

Trucker's Paradise on the way to the Smokies!

The vaca to the Smokey Mountains starts out with an eight hour car ride.  Its practically all interstate, so there isn't much to entertain yourself along the way, except the stops in between.

Made it past Meridian and into Alabama at the second exit, to the Love Truck Center, this the first of several gravity breaks.  It was a truck stop that was humming with this activity, tire shop was taking care of some blow outs, the truck wash was blasting the crud away, the sleeper lot was full of truckers snoring the morning away.  The pumps were busy topping off the outgoing rigs, and as I got out of the car, I got to wondering what awaited us inside?

When you entered the station you were welcomed by a little old crusty women yelling "welcome to Love's!". The rest room was buzzing with truckers washing hands and faces, getting ready to continue their trek.  For some, the cold water was a wakeup call for the road ahead.  For others, it was an attempt to revive those wrinkled, road weary faces that still had a few more miles to travel.

As I paid for my diet dew and snicker, the little old lady continued to yell " welcome to Love's!". You could tell from a close look at her that she had a few stories in her.  She was or had been a heavy smoker in her day.  I noticed a lot of small tattoos up both her arms, wondering what stories they could tell.  She yelled "welcome to Love's" again as more customers came and went.  I couldn't resist.  I had to ask.  "Is this where the Love Train ends or begins?". She burst into laughter, and said " oh thank you sweetie!  The stories I could tell you!". "Welcome to Love's!". With that we were on our way!